Brussels – EU members backed a proposal tabled by the German EU presidency to peg respect for the rule of law to the union’s funds, which should enable the start of talks on the over EUR 1.8 trillion budget and coronavirus recovery package with the European Parliament. Unofficial information suggests that Slovenia is among the supporters.
For Slovenia, the German proposal is a solid basis which could lead to a balanced compromise, a Slovenian source said yesterday.
The German presidency presented the compromise, which is based on the decisions taken by EU leaders in July, on Sunday and it was endorsed today.
In July, EU leaders came under fire for allegedly yielding to Hungary and Poland’s pressure not to tie receiving EU funds to respecting the rule of law.
Slovenia was said to have sided with the two members, but Prime Minister Janez Janša said it only wanted the same standards to be used for all member states.
The German proposal is seen as further watering down the European Commission’s draft regulation on the protection of the EU’s budget if deficiencies regarding the rule of law are detected in member states, a document from May 2018.
It defines more loosely the deficiencies which could be sanctioned with the freeze of EU funds, focussing on financial management of the budget and on the protection of the EU’s financial interests.
Unofficial information indicates that Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium voted against, while Austria and Luxembourg abstained.
Slovenia’s stance has been all along that the EU’s 2021-2027 budget and the recovery fund should start being implemented as early in 2021 as possible, which the country believes is in the strategic interest of both Slovenia and the EU.
This is why a deal on the draft regulation and on the other pieces of legislation needed to kick-start their implementation are needed as soon as possible.
The draft regulation is one of the toughest nuts to crack in the talks on the bloc’s seven-year budget worth EUR 1.074 trillion and the recovery fund worth EUR 750 billion.
Poland and Hungary – against which a procedure for alleged violations of the rule of law has been launched – have threatened to block the budget and the recovery fund if no solution is found to the rule of law.
Some western and northern members meanwhile insist on a strong link between EU funds and the rule of law; delaying the implementation of the recovery package would means lower spending.